This morning we finally made it to a rheumatologist, a specialist in diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones.
After a rather thorough exam, he did not offer a final diagnosis but did admit that what he thinks he is seeing is rheumatoid arthritis, particularly palindromic rheumatoid arthritis, a systemic inflammatory disorder that moves around a lot.
He said that a lot of the symptoms that I've labeled as gout are probably rheumatoid arthritis. My gout medications have helped to mitigate the symptoms, but could not fix the problem.
We should have a solid diagnosis in a couple of weeks. Overall, I am quite pleased. I now have a target to shoot at.
My inflammation has been so high for several months that I finally consented to take a round of prednisone, a steroidal drug. I have only taken a few of them, but I already can feel the inflammation backing off. It is definitely something I don't want to be taking for a very long time, but after three months of pain, I am grateful for the relief.
The cause of the inflammation is an overactive immune response—an autoimmune response. Both my mother and brother have had autoimmune disorders, so it is not a real leap for me to accept that I could have one, too. But I have a lot of hope. This disease is episodic, or at least it is for me at this point. And I know there are a lot of good things I can do to fight the long-term effects.
I am really looking forward to returning to work and the gym. I am really grateful for all the help I have received to get me through this time. Thank you for your prayers, your help, your kindness and your Christ-like examples. They have carried me a long way.